On August 12, 2020 we broke ground on the first building for Longneck Manor. This 10,000 square foot, 30 foot high, giraffe barn is not only a top priority but also a state of the art structure. It will have everything giraffes require and more. At a cost of over one million dollars it has lots of amenities for the animals, keepers and guests.
Some may think all you need is a shelter, a high fence and lots of trees to manage giraffes in a semi-captive environment. Big mistake! Giraffes born in a zoo require much more attention and behavioral enrichment than ones that are wild born. Putting them inside a large barn at night, and during bad weather, ensures their safety and allows the keepers and giraffe to develop a closer bond and trust.
For a zoo giraffe the barn is their nighttime comfort zone and a place where they get extra attention and food treats. It is also a safe haven from bad weather and lightening. Would you want to be 16 feet tall and standing in an open field during a violent thunderstorm? Neither would a giraffe.
When designing a giraffe barn you must take into account several important factors. First (and most obvious) are the doors. They need to be 18 feet high and easy for keepers to open and close. The floors of their stalls need to be non-skid and not too hard. Our barn has fine gravel floors and also rubberized coated concrete floors for quarantine and medical treatments. A slippery floor can be a very dangerous proposition for such a long-legged animal, especially a newborn trying to stand for the first time. Other important components are: elevated water drinkers and feeders, natural lighting, restraint chute (for hoof trims, blood draws and loading and unloading animals) and heat in the winter and good ventilation in the summer. Lastly, the barn needs to be big enough to accommodate future offspring and a whole herd (or tower) of giraffe.
To allow guests to safely interact and feed our giraffe we have included an eight foot wide elevated catwalk along the back of the giraffe stalls. This allows both guest and keepers to interact with the animals on their level and away from those large and potentially dangerous flying hooves. To access the catwalk there is an outside stairway and elevator for those not able to negotiate the steps.
There are keeper offices, bathrooms and food storage rooms on the first floor at one end of the barn. Above this workspace is a 1,200 square foot overnight suite for guests that choose to “sleep” with our giraffe. It will be a three-room, air- conditioned, Wi-Fi equipped, giraffe suite that has floor to ceiling glass panels overlooking the large family giraffe stall. It will be African themed and have a kitchen, living room and master bedroom.
We expect to start taking reservations for our Giraffe Suite very soon and welcoming our first overnight guests in July 2021.
We are very proud of our giraffe mansion and believe it will raise the bar for all future giraffe barns. Don’t just take our word…. you be the judge and come stay with us.